The Walk

The standard joke question people have often asked daredevil adventurers is “why did you do it?”  Their answer has usually been “Because it was there!”  The same could be said for ‘The Walk’.  Charting one man’s obsession to walk a tightrope between the Twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974, one at least has to admire his bravery.  Those suffering from vertigo may have a tough time watching but the experience provides a modicum of the rush the walker felt all those years ago.


Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a man on a mission.  A high-wire artist looking for new challenges, one he finds with the World Trade Centre towers.  Determined to walk between them, he enlists the support of his friends including mentor Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley).  Facing a myriad of physical and personal challenges Philippe’s quest tests his resolve.  The final outcome awaits his skills and a fame he never imagined.


‘The Walk’ perfectly encapsulates Robert Zemeckis’ directorial style.  Wanting to bring his viewers into his character’s feats, he successfully does so here. Although the story is the usual ‘fight against adversity’ obstacle course, ‘The Walk’ dazzles in its white-knuckle visuals.  The walk between the towers is of course the film’s centrepiece and it delivers in spades.  This scaredy cat reviewer gripped the cinema seats very tight as Petit walked an amazing height.


None of this would work without becoming involved in Petit’s mission which we do easily because of Gordon-Levitt’s stoic performance as the determined artist.  At times brave, strong and just plain crazy, these facets are well imagined in Gordon-Levitt’s hands.  Kudos also goes to the CGI boffins who conjure the gravity defying visions superbly.  You really feel you are with Petit every step of the way as he creates history with every step.


The most positive movie featuring the former twin towers since 2001, ‘The Walk’ almost becomes an ode to it.  Whilst its’ tragic demise will never forgotten ‘The Walk’ ensures it becomes a symbol of what can be achieved and the tenacity of the human spirit.


Rating out of 10:  8

Black Mass

Crime may never pay but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from cashing in.  ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Sopranos’ are amongst the many popular mainstays.  Having intricate relationships between gangs in common, those works set a benchmark in exploring mob culture.  ‘Black Mass’ gamely tries to add its own take.  As gritty as its predecessors, it doesn’t add anything new but has enough rough sheen to prove why such movies continue to be enduring.


John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) and James Bulger (Johnny Depp) have grown up on Boston’s mean streets.  Becoming an FBI agent, John reunites with is child-hood friend in an unexpected way.  Head of the Irish mafia, James is a dangerous criminal soon on the FBI’s most wanted lists.  Lethal in his dealings, James catches the ire of the Italian mob.  Caught in the deadly cross-fire, John must choose between personal sentiment and career loyalty in order to take James down.


Directed with raw finesse by Scott Cooper, ‘Black Mass’ is gripping mostly due to Depp’s intensely menacing performance.  Using his deep blue eyes almost as an intimidating weapon, Bulger’s reign of terror knew no bounds.  His violent, psychotic actions take on new dimensions knowing the film is based on true events.  How he manipulated those around him, including his supposed close friends, give ‘Black Mass’ a strong spine in which to carry its story.


Edgerton is fine too as Bulger’s mis-guided friend caught in his web.  The quality of his acting matches those of his co-stars who successfully conjure the era in which ‘Black Mass’ is set.  Whilst there are moments of predictability given the familiar material, Depp’s magnetic characterisation and general authenticity provide engagement.  Hardly a frame is wasted which is a credit to Cooper’s wish in allowing his characters drive the story than simply having endlessly violent action.


‘Black Mass’ is full of the shady crime that devotees should admire.  It is often disturbing and ugly but that’s the point of a film purporting to be presenting facts.  It does this well with the prospect of more crime movies like this one as certain as the ongoing vicious nature of crime itself.


Rating out of 10:  7